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Showing posts from November, 2014

Welcome to the brood, young argus

Posted by: Caileigh Robertson, Communications



Three weeks ago on November 7, our pair of great argus welcomed a healthy chick. The baby bird tipped the scales at 48 grams, just a little heavier than a golf ball, and has steadily gained weight since.


To increase the chick’s chance of survival, keepers are hand rearing it behind the scenes in the comforts of a warm, secure den. Soft, feathery items—like the feather duster pictured below—are added to the den to comfort the young pheasant and to familiarize it with the feeling of family.


The argus chick is a symbol of hope for this vulnerable species native to Southeast Asia. As part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP), Woodland Park Zoo’s successful argus breeding program helps ensure a healthy, self-sustaining population that’s genetically and demographically stable and diverse. Woodland Park Zoo coordinates the argus SSP on site, working to pair fewer than 60 individuals across 20 AZA zoos in North America, and educating zoo visitors ab…

Giving rescued endangered plants a second home

Posted by: Peter Miller, Zookeeper with Katrina Lindahl, Horticulturist

Woodland Park Zoo provides a home for the critically endangered—animals and plants alike. After local authorities confiscated a number of endangered succulent plants, seized from a collector who illegally dug them up from their native habitats, we are proud to step in and provide the plants with a second chance to thrive.

Here, keepers and horticulturists work closely together all the time to choose plants for exhibits and zoo grounds. We look at factors like overlapping native ranges of plants and animals, connections in their natural history, and potential toxicity of plants to animals when making choices. 

Using these parameters, we have found appropriate new homes for the plants, all of which are listed as protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). These wonderful specimens have been incorporated into geographically-appropriate animal exhibits within the zoo’s Day Ex…

Thanksgiving, like a beast

Posted by: Kirsten Pisto, Communications
Photos by: Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo


Thanksgiving is a time for tradition—too much turkey, small talk with long-lost relatives, football jitters and holiday traffic jams—but we’re here to help you break convention and show your wild side. Take a cue from the animals and enjoy Thanksgiving like a beast!
1. Forage together In the wild, meerkats take turns foraging for small lizards, insects, birds and fruit while one or two of them act as a sentry and keep a lookout for predators. At the zoo, our meerkat mob dines on a variety of kibble, vegetables, crickets, mealworms, mice, fish and a carnivore meat diet.


Tip from the meerkats: Holiday grocery shopping can be grueling, but not when you’ve got accomplices! Plan to visit the market with your own mob (a few close friends or family members). Divide your list and conquer the masses together. Then celebrate with a cricket pie. Hey, it’s protein!


2. Hoard your cache Like any good scavenger, azure-win…

Counting tigers on the frontlines of conservation

Posted by: Fred Koontz, PhD, VP Field Conservation


Nowhere can we make a greater difference for endangered tigers than to work directly in the field. Just one hundred years ago, more than 100,000 wild tigers roamed the grasslands and forests of Asia. Now, less than 3,200 survive. Behind this sharp decline are decades of habitat loss and illegal killing. Today, conservation scientists worry about an accelerating international demand for tiger parts, such as skin for rugs and bone for Chinese medicine. Poachers are pushing this iconic big cat to the brink of extinction. We’re working hard to change that!

As you learned in last summer’s field report, Panthera and Woodland Park Zoo established a 10-year, $1 million partnership to assist our Malaysian colleagues’ efforts to save tigers from extinction. The Malayan tiger (Panthera tigris jacksoni) is a tiger subspecies found only on the Malay Peninsula. In the 1950s, there were an estimated 3,000 tigers in Peninsular Malaysia; possibly few…

Phasing out the elephant program

We have news we want to share: today, Woodland Park Zoo announced we will phase out our on-site elephant program and begin plans to relocate together our Asian elephants, Bamboo and Chai, to another Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited institution.

Above all, we are committed to putting the welfare of Bamboo and Chai first.

You may recall the Elephant Task Force—a panel of local community representatives and internationally-distinguished scientists and animal care professionals—conducted a critical and thorough external review of the zoo’s elephant program in 2013. Following that, we announced earlier this year a strategic direction to strengthen our Asian elephant program, which included an effort to expand the herd to enhance the social welfare of the animals.


After several months of working to implement the recommendations of the Elephant Task Force, we have found that adding to the herd of our two aging elephants is not realistic in the foreseeable future. Yet it re…

Locals saving locals: conserving frogs in Madagascar

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Editor


We’re localphiles in the Pacific Northwest—we like our local food, local brews and local music. At Woodland Park Zoo, we’re working hard to get that sentiment extended to our local wildlife. And now, everything we’re learning from our work with native frogs and our Northwest communities, we’re taking with us all the way across the globe to support conservation efforts in Madagascar.

There, “local” takes on a deeper meaning—of Madagascar’s 292 known frog species, all but one exists nowhere else on the planet. Alarmingly, nearly one quarter of these endemic frog species are threatened with extinction. The time for action is now.


The zoo’s Amphibians of Andasibe project—a Wildlife Survival Fund conservation project—is directly addressing the rapid loss of local amphibians in Madagascar through the support of Association Mitsinjo, a community-based conservation organization in Andasibe, Madagascar.


The first step is to halt the crisis. Mitsinjo has succes…

Rescued: Four Endangered Orangutans

Posted by: Cassie Freund, Gunung Palung Orangutan Conservation Program, and Bobbi Miller, Woodland Park Zoo Field Conservation


In honor of Orangutan Caring Week, we share this powerful story coming from our Partner for Wildlife: Gunung Palung Orangutan Conservation Program (GPOCP) out of Indonesia. This story chronicles the rescue of four endangered orangutans, and what will happen to them now.


It is estimated that there are just over 50,000 Bornean orangutans left in the wild, although numbers are decreasing daily. Orangutans are the largest arboreal animals on the face of the earth today, but they are quickly losing habitat to mining and conversion of land for agriculture, namely palm oil. As habitat is lost, orangutans have nowhere to go, often ending up in the hands of local community members to be kept as pets. Remaining pockets of orangutan habitat are easily accessible from local villages and orangutans often wander into human-dominated landscapes as their forest habitat is clea…